You’ve seen the premiere episode of MotorWeek from 1981, an episode that kicked off American TV’s longest-running automotive magazine. Now it’s time to venture even deeper into the rabbit hole that is the MotorWeek archives. Behold, the original unaired pilot from the height of the Malaise Era!


There seems to be some dispute as to when this pilot is originally from. John Davis has said the original pilot was created in 1978 and sat on a shelf for a few years, but the copyright says 1980 at the end. Regardless, it’s a rare glimpse of MotorWeek before it became MotorWeek as we know and love it today.

Our story begins during the darkest era of the American automotive industry, one choked by fuel economy and emissions standards, hideous styling and lackluster quality that drove buyers into Hondas and Toyotas by the millions.

An extremely chilled-out John Davis leads us into road tests of the Chevrolet Citation and Ford Fairmont, two sedans that will make you grateful you live in 2015; a breakdown of how fuel economy ratings work; a lesson in how to change your oil; and what to expect from automakers as the 80s march on, like the Ford EXP, the GM J-Body and the AMC/Renault Fuego.

I love MotorWeek, but the rides in this episode could qualify it as a horror movie instead of a car show.